Political Insider

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The Jolt: On gun legislation and the definition of ‘radical’


We told you earlier this week about a YouTube video posted by Georgia Gun Owners attacking Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor.

The video is a minute in length, a sign that it’s designed for Internet viewing rather than TV broadcast. The latter is far more expensive. You can watch it here, but this is the key language:

“Ban! Confiscate! Destroy! That’s Stacey Abram’s radical agenda for gun owners….Banning AR-15s, confiscating carry pistols, even seizing Ruger 10/22s. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Patrick Parsons, executive director of the gun group, told us his group’s video is based on Abrams’ support for House Bill 731, a 2016 measure authored by state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, a longtime critic of Georgia’s relaxed gun laws. Abrams, then leader of the Democratic caucus, provided the second signature on the bill, which never received a hearing.

“The bill bans hundreds of types of firearms, ammunition, and magazines owned by millions of Georgians, including virtually every ‘semi-auto’ firearm. Her bill is radical, extreme, dangerous -- sending government agents to ‘seize’ and ‘destroy’ (these are words used in her bill),” Parsons wrote.

That word “radical” keeps popping up. It requires scrutiny.

The bill would have indeed banned assault weapons, and included a laundry list of firearms that the authors thought qualified as such. The Ruger 10/22, a popular .22-caliber rifle, is not on there. The Ruger Mini-14/5F folding stock model is.

But let’s skip the tedious argument over whether an “assault weapon” can be legally defined. Let’s look instead at the other features of the bill. It would have banned:

-- Large-capacity magazines;

-- Armor-piercing bullets;

-- Incendiary .50 caliber bullets;

-- Ammunition that contains depleted uranium.

HB 731 also would have enhanced penalties for the misuse of machine guns, and would have barred machine gun owners from letting anyone under the age of 16 fire them.

The bill was drawn up before the 2017 massacre in Las Vegas, where a gunman perched in a towering hotel murdered 58 people and wounded hundreds more. So a ban on “bump stocks,” which allow some semi-automatic rifles to fire at a rate close to machine guns, wasn’t included in this particular measure. That came in 2018 legislation introduced by Oliver. It, too, failed to pass.

Here’s the point: If you were to knock on doors in north Fulton, east Cobb or north Gwinnett, and tell the women who answered that you think ammunition made of depleted uranium ought not be on their streets, they would probably agree.

They would also probably agree, as much of law enforcement does, that the open sale of rounds intended to pierce the protective armor worn by police officers is poor policy. And most mothers would concede that if an adolescent is too young to drive, perhaps he or she isn’t old enough to spray a machine gun.

Such thoughts may indeed be radical in a GOP primary held in May. But we are now in August, headed for a general election. And that definition doesn’t necessarily hold water in November.

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Beware of inaccurate information about this governor’s race, folks. 

The folks at McClatchy popped out a story from Washington focusing on how Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct had 276 registered voters ahead of the state’s primary vote but had 670 ballots cast.

Which would be alarming, if accurate. Our AJC colleague Mark Niesse reports that it’s not. From Niesse, who covers voting issues:

The allegation that there were 670 ballots in a precinct with 276 voters is incorrect.

There were 670 Republican ballots cast out of 3,941 registered voters in the Mud Creek precinct in Habersham County on May 22, according to state data.

Voting rights advocate Marilyn Marks responded on Twitter that other documents offered different figures, which were then adjusted. In part:

“Perhaps those numbers are correct. Who knows? That is our point---the numbers coming out of the voting system poll books are messed up!”

This may well be true. But an honest typo or input mistake isn’t a reason to hyperventilate.

Beyond that, look at the implication of the corrected information. Habersham is a thoroughly Republican county, and a hard-fought race for governor produced a primary turnout of just 17 percent.

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The Root’s Jason Johnson caught up with Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez about Stacey Abrams’ bid to flip Georgia in November.

Perez told Johnson the party made a “six month investment in rural African-American voters” that could help lay the groundwork for Democratic gains against Republicans. 

And the chairman had some harsh words for Republican Brian Kemp, her November opponent, referring to his own time within the U.S. Justice Department during the Obama administration:

“Listen, I know Kemp well because when I headed up the civil rights division. We sued ... I was about to say something ... Not very nice ... We sued him because he’s one of those people who wants to make it harder to vote,” Perez said. “And, let me be slightly more specific: He wants to make it harder for African-Americans and Latinos and Asian-Americans to vote. That’s what he’s trying to do.”

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Democrats may be picking up on some passive aggression in Gwinnett County. From their Twitter feed:

@CityofLilburn You told us last yr that you didn't want politics at Nat'l Nite Out. But this yr, you ask the Republicans and not us? Don't like other points of view?

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